The snack producer’s renewed CVC unit will focus on investing in more mature food businesses for eventual acquisitions.

Mondelēz brands

Mondelēz brands. Image courtesy of Mondelēz International.

US food manufacturer Mondelēz has wound down its innovation hub, SnackFutures, and accelerator scheme, CoLab Program, and launched a corporate venture capital arm, SnackFutures Ventures, Forbes has reported.

The news came after Luba Safran – who had spent seven years at brewer AB InBev’s investment subsidiary, ZX Ventures – joined SnackFutures earlier this year to lead its corporate venturing activities.

Formed in 2018, SnackFutures made smaller investments including in companies like paleo chocolate snack provider Hu Master Holdings, which was eventually acquired by Mondelēz for $340m in 2021.

The original SnackFutures subsidiary was led by former director of corporate development and ventures and GCV Rising Star Mel Gaceta for more than two years until late 2021 when he joined venture fund manager Touchdown Ventures.

In addition to strategic early-stage brands producing chocolate, biscuits and baked goods, SnackFutures Ventures will back growth-stage companies globally that generate at least $20m in annual revenue.

The renewed unit will provide between $2m and $3m per deal, investing directly from Mondelēz’s balance sheet. It will be “choiceful and highly strategic”, according to Richie Gray, vice president and global head of SnackFutures, who was cited by Forbes as saying at the Natural Products Expo West 2024 in California.

Gray explained as a large corporation, Mondelēz “thrive[s] on scale” and the CVC model was better suited for that purpose than an accelerator. The firm plans to make two to three deals per year and acquire its portfolio companies after three to four years.

While SnackFutures Ventures will focus on US companies, its first two investments are in Israel: cell-derived cocoa ingredient provider Celleste Bio and Torr Food Tech, which is working on healthier replacements for sugary binders used in snacks.

Gray added that the UK and Germany are among its target markets, as is India, where CoLab ran an accelerator programme last year.

Edison Fu

Edison Fu is a reporter and Asia liaison at Global Corporate Venturing.